Creating the not-to-do list is all about clarity. Leaders, executives and professionals, especially those who care about and are involved with people, often are too quick to say 'yes' to requests that come their way.
It's great to be involved and to want to make a meaningful contribution to help meet the needs around you. But you can't do everything. And those who have a tendency to say 'yes' to too much, often end up stressed, overloaded or worse still experiencing burnout somewhere down the road.
Knowing so well those few things that you will say 'yes' to will help you to say 'no' to the others. Are there certain people, groups, causes, projects or programs that you wish to be involved with to the extent that you will always consider their requests for your time and attention? If so, these are your 'yes' requests. All the others are 'no'.
That doesn't mean you don't care. It doesn't mean they won't respect you. It doesn't mean you can't get involved in their cause or situation at a later date. It simply means that for now you need to focus your attention on the few things you are involved with and give them your very best.
Create your own not-to-do list. Get a sheet of paper and write this at the top, "Because I currently have other priorities to give my full attention to, I will say no to the following requests for my time."
What should you say to the person? "I'm sorry. I am not able to do that. I have current commitments that require my full attention."
Being prepared is half the battle. If you are clear about what to say 'no' to prior to any request, you won't have to think about it. You will be able to give a clear answer right on the spot. No making excuses to 'think about it' and then worrying for days.
Take responsibility for saying 'no'. It may show greater leadership than saying 'yes'. And the clarity that will result from creating your not-to-do list is going to give you greater energy for moving forward on the significant projects, programs, causes and situations that matter the most to you.
We'll cover the Not-to-Do List in our soon to be published book, 52 Solutions for Those Who Need a 25 Hour Day.